City of Cape Town drought levy 'illegal' – OUTA

Cape Town – The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has vowed to challenge the City of Cape Town's plan to charge an additional levy for water, calling it "illegal". 

The City of Cape Town introduced the additional levy, to be based on property value, at a council sitting on December 5. The revenue generated from the levy would fund the city's water augmentation schemes.

Residents have until January 12 to comment on the additional charge. 

Julius Kleynhans, OUTA portfolio manager for water, said in a statement on Thursday that instead of, what it described as, a "drought charge", the city should initiate legal proceedings against the national government which is mandated by the Constitution to manage water.

Punitive tax

"The levy is based on property values instead of water consumption, which means it is an additional punitive tax instead of a consumption charge. The city does not have the right to initiate its own taxes on top of existing property rates," Kleynhans said. 

"We are aware of the drought, but cannot accept the residents of Cape Town being burdened with punitive taxes while alternative solutions to this dire situation may exist."

Kleynhans said OUTA had sent a letter of demand to the city on Wednesday.

In it OUTA called on the City to: 

  • Scrap the proposed drought levy;
  • Institute legal proceedings against the Department of Water and Sanitation for it to provide water to the city;
  • Initiate urgent legal action to access adequate disaster or emergency funding from National Treasury to fund interim water supply projects;
  • Relaunch the public participation process on the proposed levy from January 15 to February 15 (a minimum of 30 days) to ensure proper public input; and
  • Update the metro's policies to ensure that no public participation process is ever again conducted between December 15 and January 15.

The city has been given until December 29 to respond to OUTA's demands, after that the organisation says it will consider further action.

The spokesperson to City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, Zara Nicholson, confirmed that the city received the letter.

"It will be taken into consideration along with all other comments as part of the public participation process for the proposed drought charge," Nicholson told News24. 


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